Too Many Options

DoorsResearchers have shown (my favorite phrase) that too many options lead to the “paradox of choice”. The New York Times refers to it as “The Paralyzing Problem of Too Many Choices”. If the choices are six or less, then one can figure it out. But when choices exceed six,  we tend to talk away. For example, when you go into a grocery store to purchase a tube of toothpaste, you may be confronted with 10 different choices. Oy Vey… which one to choose? Do you want whiter teeth, or stronger teeth, or fluoride, or minty breath, and the choices go on and on and on. At some point (around 6) people just walk away without making a decision!Where to live decision chart 3

Our current dilemma is deciding where to live… to snowbird or not to snowbird. To be around our grandchildren or not; to be near old friends or not; to live urban or suburban; to experience four seasons or two.  Of course, these choices are not mutually exclusive, but it is hard to choose because I want to have my cake and eat it too (especially now that I’m on Weight Watchers.)

So, Clay and I have finally reached a middle-of-the road decision. We will move back home, but pack our furnishings in storage for the likely event that we will return to San Diego. If we don’t return to SD then we will have the storage company sell our goods. Whew… that’s a load off our minds.

Now what should we pack and leave in SD and what should we take?

Stay tuned………..

 

 

 

 

Ignorance is Bliss

Colson Whitehead, Author Underground Railroad

 

Being born in the semi-south (northern Virginia) and raised during the 50ties, I had a brush with segregation. I use the term brush because when compared to my more southern counterparts, my life was a piece of cake. I recall that I could not try on hats at the local Woodrow and Lothrop department store. I could not go to the movie theater one block from my house, and could not eat in local restaurants. Nor could I attend local swimming pools, skating rinks, and schools and neighborhoods were segregated. These were just a few of the many things that were part of my life in the semi-south. It was easy to view these things as “the way life is”. Then 40 years later my education about the system of slavery began.

My mis-education about the system of segregation and slavery was based upon the minute information disclosed during elementary school history class which was buttressed by the sanitized movies about the wonderful lives of slaves (aka Gone with the Wind). Even Bill O’Reilly said slaves at the white house were “well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.” Whitehead’s book, Underground Railroad, turned my thinking about the institution of slavery upside down and inside out.

I read Whiteheads’s book during an intersection of events. First, was a couples vacation to Charleston, South Carolina, which I learned was ground zero for the slave industry. The second event was the receipt of a Smithsonian magazine titled Black in America prompted by the opening of the  African American Museum. The third occurred because I was desperately looking for a good book to read, which led me to the New York Times book review where The Underground Railroad was listed. Finally, I joined a book club and naturally the book being read this month is The Underground Railroad.

I probably would have overlooked any one of these events and filed it away under miscellaneous knowledge soon to be forgotten. It was the convergence of the four events that has thrown me into a tailspin.

While visiting Charleston, I was able to view the history of the major center of the slave slave-posterindustry from a purely business perspective. How well organized it was with great record keeping systems.. At one point, there were 40 different auction businesses housing brokers with jail cells for the “enslaved Africans.” It was in Charleston that I learned the term “enslaved Africans” as the correct new terminology that acknowledges the humanity of people considered property. The auction houses were the terminus for a network of slave catchers, slave thieves, and brokers ranging across the southern states. When someone needed money they would simply sell some of their “property” through this network. Viewing this from a business perspective allowed me to ignore the emotional impact of selling children away from their parents and wives from their husbands.

When I returned home from Charleston, the Smithsonian magazine was there to continue my education. It was filled with stories from the new African American museum which addressed the contributions of Enslaved Africans to the development of the United States. It described the migration of enslaved Americans after the 13th Amendment was passed (12/6/1865) and the effects of that migration. Then when I picked up the Underground Railroad all the emotions began to flow as I read of the degradation, beatings, hangings, maiming, rape, and psychological damage inflicted upon my ancestors. His book is based upon “slave” oral histories captured by the Library of Congress wrapped in incredible creative writing skills.  The “business perspective” barrier that I had erected came crashing down around my ankles.

Now I am faced with book club where I will be the only brown skinned person in the room. This should be interesting.

Good Job!

Knee 3An older woman walked into an exercise studio filled with women average age 30-something. Instructor demonstrated exercises that would be covered in the class. A helpful lady next to older woman introduced herself and re-explained what the instructor just went over. Twice during the hour-long exercise, the helpful lady told the older woman that she was doing a GOOD JOB! At the end of class, the helpful lady went out of her way to befriend the older woman and again told her what a GOOD JOB she did.

It is obvious that the helpful lady assumed that the older woman would need help understanding and doing the exercises. As you may have guessed…. I was the Older Woman. I was offended and found myself explaining that I had done a triathalon (my one big claim to fame) and that I was trying this class because I needed to step down from a bootcamp that I have been taking (which was true). Then I got angry with myself for being defensive.

I was defensive because I’ve been feeling my age lately. Because, I can no longer do what I once did. My body snaps, crackles, and pops like a box of Rice Krispies.  Occasionally, I wear a knee brace to stave off the knee replacement that I will need in the future. I sometimes need a heating pad for my back after a long bike ride. I refer to myself as an aging athlete, and It’s clear that I’m no longer a spring chicken, but I’m not ready to be written off. I’m disheartened that people look at me and see an “older woman”.

Then I remembered an “older woman” that I knew from a prior exercise class. She too was an aging athlete. She could no longer do century bike rides (100 miles), and had cut back to half centuries. I guess she was 10 years senior to me. I also remembered that, unbeknownst to her, she was a role-model for me.

I hope I can be a role-model for others.

Stay tuned

Sipping My Tennessee Honey Jack

tempAlways needed to be in charge. To pull the strings. Always knew how to do it better. But that’s okay, because I loved juggling projects, customers, employees and maneuvering through the minutia.

But, being in charge is like the burden of Sisyphus, because no matter how hard you push, there is always a new bolder and another hill. After awhile what used to be a challenge becomes a problem, a headache,  or pain in the derriere.

As a business owner, I operated in the fast lane. Ate problems for breakfast, and asked for seconds. As a university professor I shifted over to the middle lane and problems were primarily caused by coddled students who couldn’t accept anything short of an “A” grade, plus demanding adjuncts who didn’t understand that adjunct meant temp. As a consultant, I eased into the right lane where I took on projects as and when I chose. Life was easy and good as I cruised down the right lane.

One day, while sitting on my back deck working on a cient project and sipping my icetea, I momentarily lost my way. It was as if a blinding migraine headache had struck and I couldn’t think straight. Suddenly I had a need to be a mover and shaker again! Wanted to prove to myself that I still had “it”. Wanted back into the fast lane! Like a mother, I had forgotten the pain of childbirth (aka management).

Took on a killer job only to find that there were too many jockeys and not enough horse, anddd… that I was the horse. Like being on a stage with Penn and Teller, I had been operating under the illusion that I was in charge. When the reality lightbulb went on, I knew it was time to take over the reins and pull back. But the most important lesson was that I did not need to prove to anyone including myself, that I still had it. What a humongous waste of time that was.

I no longer care about the marketplace. I no longer care about customers, contracts, or unintended consequences of self-driving cars. Thinking about Trump and his ignorant follower’s raises my blood pressure.  I no longer care. Yes, these things matter, but I’m not in charge. I am not responsible. It’s not my problem. I don’t have to plan, implement, or sweat it.I’ve seen what’s behind the curtain and it is not pretty.  It’s time for other folk to worry about the minutia.

I’ve now moved off the highway to the grandstand and am immensely enjoying watching the silliness, the puffery, and the inane while sipping my Tennessee Honey Jack.

Stay tuned

Take Small Bites…

Bayshore Bikeway 2“Real bicyclists” travel the 27-mile Bayshore Bikeway as a warmup to their century rides. My balcony overlooks part of the Bikeway so I cannot escape these energizer bunnies who I also see at the local coffee shop. They are all ages, shapes, and sizes. In fact, I’ve often wondered how someone can be fat and a bicyclist, but that’s another story.

The Bikeway is well known in the San Diego biking community, and watching the cyclists makes me nostalgic, because somewhere in me is a woman who would easily bike 25, 35, 50 miles or more. This woman, AthLEticA, was an avid racquetball player, bicyclist, so-so tennis player, and skier.

AthLEticA has been responsible for talking me into activities ending in knee surgery’s, back aches, foot sprains, and has caused many dollars in contributions to the medical industry. Therefore, I have told her that under no circumstance would I tackle the Bikeway, but yesterday, she and my husband conspired against me. He suggested that we do 5 miles of the route. At the 5-mile mark the ride turned into a challenge to see which one of us would cry uncle, and turn around.  Since both of us are extremely competitive, we ended up doing the entire 27-mile route.

Message 1… if you want to do something big, break it up into little pieces

Message 2 …. Push yourself to do what you thought you couldn’t

Next Stop…. Appalachian Trail!!

Stay tuned….

Regret

When we lose someone through divorce or death, we grieve. When someone physically hurts us, we first feel pain then anger. Looking into the eyes of a toddler makes us smile and we experience joy. These are spontaneous emotions. Regret is a different story.

regret 2Regret is a man-made emotion. Not spontaneous, but deliberate. So when she asked me if I had any regrets, I was stumped. Apparently, she imagined that during the first part of my retirement, I would reflect on the past and have some regrets. My response to her was that I couldn’t regret that which I didn’t do, because there is no way to know the road not taken. As Frank Sinatra said… “regrets I’ve had a few, but few to mention … I planned each charted course, each careful step along the way… I did it my way.”

That was when I realized that regret is not a real emotion like grief, anger, or joy. It is a deliberate decision to feel bad. Hmmm… but that doesn’t make sense. Why would anyone choose to feel bad. But, that is what many of us do. We dwell. We ruminate. We consider the “what if”.

That is not my way. I recognize that the past contains many lessons, but what is done is done.

I have no regrets, but have learned many lessons.

Stay tuned….

Every Day is a New Day

the good lifeI keep having these “best ever” days, because moving to a new place means that all experiences are new. Everywhere I go, every thing I do is new. It’s the life a child lives. The difference is that I don’t have a parent telling me ” no don’t touch that”. I get to fully experience everything.

Yesterday we began the day at a Ted Talks lecture at UCSD and ended the day at a James Bond symphony starring Sheena Easton conducted by one of the original Bond music producers. I was moved to standing applause several times. I simply could not sit still. I had to acknowledge the stupendous music (not often I get to use the word stupendous). Aside from the incredible music, the experience was flavored with a mix of nostalgia for the old James Bond films, with full orchestral sound that they don’t seem to do anymore.

clay at Sheena Easton concert 2Then we discovered another opportunity to be kids again… there was a group at the concert hall that does “walk arounds” in costume. For example, they were at the concert dressed as characters from various Bond films. (That’s Clay in photo with one of the characters.) Then we learned that we too could participate in their “walk arounds”. So, just like children… we can dress up and play.

Life in San Diego is like a drink of water from a freshwater spring….

Stay tuned for more “new day” experiences.